"The number of open antlerless-deer counties will be as liberal as we've had for a long time," Foster said. "And with hunters able to harvest up to two deer in a single day, we anticipate this year's harvest to slightly exceed last year's."
Weather, as always, could knock Foster's prediction into a cocked hat.
Biologists expect most of the kill during the three-day season to take place on Saturday, the hunt's last day, because that's when most hunters will be off work. Good weather on that day would bode well for a high harvest. Cold, rainy weather could wash away any chance of a substantial kill.
Mast conditions also can play a significant role in hunters' success. Foster said the current scarcity of oak mast would probably force hunters to alter their usual hunting pattern.
"Hunters who live in areas where there are beech trees should target those areas," he said. "And if hunters can find areas where there are some acorns, they should focus there as well.
"Because of the limited mast conditions, I would expect deer to be out in the fields more than usual. That, if nothing else, should play in hunters' favor."
Mating activity could also affect the season. Some bowhunters have already reported rutting behavior, both from does and bucks, but Foster doesn't believe that activity is widespread.
"The people I've been talking to haven't seen much rutting activity," he said.
The peak of West Virginia's rut usually occurs in early November, and Foster believes this year shouldn't be any different.
Contact John McCoy at 304-348-1231, or johnmc...@wvgazette.com.